Team SA for SAWTC 2017 announced

Monday, 3 July, 2017
Judy Brower -
Team South Africa was announced at the finals of the South African Wine Tasting Championship Finals at The Taj Hotel on Sunday 2 July 2017. #WineTastingChampionship2017

This is the 4th year of the South African Wine Tasting Championships, run very ably by the very competent Jean Vincent Ridon.

He has virtually single-handedly managed to get a South African Team to France every year to participate in the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships in France, held annually in October. This year the competition will be held in Nuit Saint George in Burgundy on 14 October 2017.

Sunday, 2nd July saw the finals of the SAWTC held at The Taj Hotel in Cape Town, with three finalists coming down from Joburg and the other eight from Cape Town.
It was a very tough competition, with six white and six red wines tasted totally blind. The finalists had to identify as many aspects of the wine as possible, area, vintage, winery, country - and JV made it tough with only two of the wines being South African, viz Stellenrust Chenin and a Steenberg Magna Carta.

Top marks went to National Champion Anita Streicher-Nel for the best score of the finals, which was significantly high. Anita will also captain the team again (this is her 3rd time in Team SA and 2nd year as captain). Next up was Anton Swarts - recent Cape Wine Master graduate, then Jeanri-Tine van Zyl, and the reserve position went to Nkulu Mkhwazani.

Jean-Vincent was most impressed by their scores, being much higher than the 2016 which Team SA achieved in France.
Jolette Steyn is also in Team SA for 2017 - and she already has a place by virtue of her marks being the best of both Provincial legs of the competition.

Classic selfie with Jean Vincent Ridon, Anita Streicher-Nel, Anton Swarts, Jeanri-Tine van Zyl and Nkulu Mkhwazani


The 2017 SA National Champion, Anita Streicher-Nel, recently joined Anthonij Rupert Wines in their marketing department, having spent the last few years at Morgenhof. She has an incredible palate and skill for identifying the right wines and will be a great captain again this year!

Anton Swarts, is the first ever Cape Wine Master to make it to Team SA, and he is one of the Spier winemakers. This will be Anton's second trip - as he represented South Africa in 2014, before he achieved is CWM.

Jeanri-Tine van Zyl, well-known writer, PR and Communications personality in the wine industry, was very nervous at the finals, and then could not withhold her excitement as her name was announced for Team SA!

Nkulu Mkhwazani, from Joburg, entered for the first time this year. He works for Reciprocal and also represents a few wine brands in the Gauteng area. For now, he will be the reserve in the team.

The eleven finalists included a broad spectrum of people, crossing professions, colour, gender and experience!.

Media24 journalist Samarie Smith was one of the Cape Town finalists and represented South Africa before.

Francois Cillie is a regular participant in the competition and done very well over the years. Francois is also a recent Cape Wine Master graduate,

Eric Botha, the Gauteng Provincial Champion, is originally from De Aar, and working as a sommelier at a Jazz Lounge in Johannesburg.

There were two non-wine industry people, Katie Truscott, a Canadian currently living in Joburg and runs her own marketing business, and Edwina Frantz, a Systems Analyst from Cape Town. Both are passionate wine lovers and doing a few wine courses to keep their taste buds up to date!

Gosia Podgorska is a young marketer and blogger, currently working at Fairview and writes for Glou-Glou.

There was a young recent graduate from the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) - Avuyile Maqolo, who surprised everyone by making the cut for the finals. He obviously has a good palate memory to make it this far, but has not had much exposure to International wines as yet.  Avuyile lives in Paarl and very keen to find work on a winery - so if anyone is looking for an enthusiastic wine ambassador - Avuyile is your man!

Thanks to Chef & Sommelier for sponsoring the beautiful drip-free decanters for Team SA and for the glasses used at the finals. continues to be a media partner and proud supporter of the SAWTC.

Africa will be represented by two teams this year at the World Blind Wine Tasting Champs in France, as we have Team Zim - consisting of Joseph Tongai, Tinashe Nyamoduka, Marlvin Gwese and Pardon Tuguzu, and now Team SA - both of whom will be escorted through France by Jean Vincent Ridon - tour guide and educator of note!

Good luck to both teams - Team SA and Team Zim!

Should you be interested in assisting with funding either or both of the teams - please contact Jean Vincent Ridon -

Judy Brower

Judy has been running alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, writes occasionally, sells services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at

TEAM SA - Anita, Anton(CWM), Jeanri & Nkulu
TEAM SA - Anita, Anton(CWM), Jeanri & Nkulu

Anita Streicher-Nel - National Champion
Anita Streicher-Nel - National Champion

SAWTC Finalists
SAWTC Finalists

Jolette Steyn
Jolette Steyn

A very delighted Jeanri & JV
A very delighted Jeanri & JV

SAWTC Finals - wine lineup
SAWTC Finals - wine lineup & Chef & Sommelier prizes & Chef & Sommelier prizes

Avuyile Maqolo & JV Ridon
Avuyile Maqolo & JV Ridon

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